I cooked a breakfast of french toast, scrambled eggs, bacon, and grapes which I washed down with a glass of milk. I then headed to the bathroom and performed my daily ablutions, which afforded me the opportunity to thumb through my hiking book and pick out a spot to go visit. I decided I would head out to the Angel's Rest trail out in the Gorge. The description sounded pleasing and relatively easy, and seeings how it was my first hike of the season "easy" sounded pretty good to me. Before I could leave though I needed to tend to some household chores. I unloaded the dishwasher, then mowed the lawn in record time. Usually I prefer to add some flair with the mower marks, going in S curves and stuff like that, but seeings how time was of the essence I kept it fairly pedestrian:
After the lawn was mowed I packed my backpack with a bottle of water, towel, ipod, and a big bag of trail mix. I fired up DBT's "Southern Rock Opera" disc one as I hit the road and headed for the Gorge. On the way out there I happened to have my camera ready when I passed Jesse James (the disgraced Nazi memorabilia collecting reality TV star who cheated on my Hollywood girlfriend, not the train robber):
When I arrived at the trail head I realized that I wasn't the only one who thought it would be a neat idea to go hiking at Angel's Rest. There must have been at least a hundred cars total, many spilling out of the parking area onto the side road. I mentally prepared myself for the onslaught of polite "hellos" that was going to be required once the hike gets under way. The hike entailed an elevation gain of 1600 ft, which didn't look that daunting when I saw it in the book. Neither did the 4.6 miles round trip. I quickly realized that it was going to be daunting for me because I'm a giant baby and I hate walking uphill. To get to where the angels rest, I was going to need to walk a whole bunch of uphill. Great. Here's some thoughts I had while hiking:
1. What is the exact etiquette on the trail when it comes to passing? On the way up I was submissive to the folks walking down, but I seemed to be the only one in either direction being submissive. When I was on my descent I realized that it's much more difficult to stop and let people pass while going downhill. Yet, no one was stopping for me while I was heading downhill. Even if I figure out the proper etiquette I doubt anyone else will. That is, unless they post signs on the trail that remind folks to yield to those going downhill. Even then, I doubt it would do much because....
2. There were a number of bros, or dudes, on the trail. Most were topless, husky, and tattooed poorly (THTP). They seemed to have zero interest in saying hello or yielding. They were typical bros, or dudes.
3. I was reminded how refreshing stream water can be. On the way down I stopped off at the stream crossing and splashed my face numerous times. I felt like a million bucks afterwards. I was also able to wash my hands, which were sticky from snacking on my giant bag of trail mix. A simple pleasure for sure.
4. Every time I go anywhere in the Gorge I always see a large group of Asians. They are never dressed for hiking, always dressed for sight seeing. Lots of cameras. A walking stereotype. I can only assume that the pacific northwest is a popular vacation destination for Asians.
5. I overheard three different hiking parties discussing medications. This served as further evidence that this country of ours is pro pill popping (PPP). Enough already with the over-medication of everybody.
6. I saw two black guys on the trail. When I lived in SE Portland I could go months without ever seeing a person of color, yet two sightings on the trail. Is that racist? Am I allowed to notice and comment on things like that?
7. Women seem to enjoy multitasking their exercise with gossip. Every group of gals out on the trail was wearing workout clothes and chatting up a storm while they hiked. Is that sexist? Am I allowed to notice and comment on things like that?
Eventually I made it to the top of the the trail. In the interest of full disclosure I should say that I had a hard time reaching the top. I hate walking uphill, but lots of quiet swearing and a whole lot of sweating proved to be worth it. The landscape was trippy due to a fire back in the nineties, the view was fantastic, and the bag of trail mix was tremendous. Here's some photos from the top:
In the spirit of purchasing a t shirt at the rock show to prove to everyone you were there, I have inserted a photo of myself at the top to prove that, in fact, I was here:
On the way down the trail I spotted some petroglyphs. I love happening upon these things. They inspire wonder. Often when I come across these ancient wonders I wonder how much things have changed. What did this view look like when this rock was carved into? What must it have been like to be a Hunter and Gatherer? Did shooting stars scare people? Did Dwight and Jessie face discrimination as a same sex couple?
To Be Continued,